Category Archives: Goats

Miss Priss’ Kids

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Miss Priss dropped her kids on us today – a huge 8 lb buckling and a teeny tiny 4 lb doeling.  Lindsey said that the buckling hogged all the space and food inside.  But both seem to be healthy and vigorous.  They certainly have good lungs because they both yelled really loudly when they got their #7 and #8 ear tags.

Priss is the only experienced doe we have.  All of the others are having their first kids.  Priss is much more aggressive about getting her kids up and about as well as chasing away other curious creatures – goats, other kids, calves, cows, and me!  She gave me a nice little headbutt while I was putting iodine on her kids’ umbilical cords.  Good mom!

Fancy is out in the pasture about to give birth, so there may be another post later tonight!

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Nadine’s Kids

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Today we got lucky again!  Nadine gave birth to her kids – another set of twins.  I’ll have to do some research on this, but there appears to be some sex-linked genetics happening with our goat kids.  All of the bucks are white and all of the does are colored.  I’m sure now that I’ve said it the next kids will buck the trend, but it’s interesting so far.

Nadine’s twins are BoKis – hybrids between the Boer and Kiko breed.  Hopefully they’ll display some hydrid vigor and grow especially well.  They’ve got the stockiness, nose, and ears of the Boers.  I hope the Kiko blood gives them good hoofs and elevated parasite resistance.

The doe kid weighed in at 6.5 lbs and the buck tipped the scales at 7.25 lbs – the heaviest so far.  They were both up and about quickly and sucking down their colostrum like champs.

We’ve got 2 more does left to kid this spring.  Fancy and Miss Priss (the two oldest goats) are the only ones yet to kid.  Both have udders near bursting with milk, so kidding should happen for them very soon.

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Ebony’s Kids

New mom Ebony.

While making the morning rounds this lovely Sunday, I saw that Ebony had new kids.  She must have delivered in the early morning hours.  Both kids are healthy and happily nursing.

Ebony had a doe kid first.  She weighed in at 6.25 pounds.  The buck tipped the scales at an even 7 pounds.  So far Ebony and Ivory have color coded their kids.  The bucks are white and the does are darker with black markings.  That will make sorting easier later on – I hope that trend continues!

Of course, after finding them I dipped the umbilical cords in iodine, weighed them, and gave them their new earrings – #3 and #4.

We’ve got 3 more does due any day now.  Nadine needs to deliver soon – she looks three times as wide as she is tall!

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Ivory’s Kids

Last night did not start off well.  I was also discombobulated because I had taken off of work early to get the alpaca sheared at 3 pm.  After I go home, loaded up the alpaca, and went to the farm where the shearing was supposed to happen, I found out that the shearers had decided to show up at 10 am instead.  So we still have an unshorn alpaca and we learned that shearers are apparently the opposite of cable repairmen.

But the day did get better.

Ivory bedded down and ready to deliver.

I drove Jack the Alpaca home, unloaded him, and moved him, the goats, and the cattle into a fresh paddock for the next day.  When I had everything done I watched Ivory paw out an area of grass and lie down.  She started breathing heavily and having contractions, so I sat down and turned the camera on.  Some readers might find some of the videos gross because there is a little bit of blood and fluid involved, so consider this your warning.  This first video is around 14 minutes long, but it does show the whole birthing process.  For those of you who are less patient than others, “real stuff” starts to happen around the 7-minute mark.

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Ivory’s first kid

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWcFygzje8o

Ivory’s second kid

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s5Bz_DbgQ5s

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Both kids weighed in at a respectable 6 lbs even.  The first kid born, the brown one with black markings and a white star on its head, is a little doe.  The lighter-colored twin is a buckling.  Both were up and walking within minutes of birth and found the udder quickly.  Such a difference being born on time makes!  The poor premature kids from 3 weeks ago were nowhere near this size or level of vigor.

Go Ivory!

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Our First Kid

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Today I came home to find our first goat kids in the pasture.  It was quite a surprise since the mother was not due for almost 3 more weeks.  If Roja was impregnated on the first day the buck was turned in with the does then her due date should have been April 15.

Unfortunately one of the twin kids wasn’t alive when we found it.  We’re not sure if it was stillborn or died shortly after birth.

The remaining kid is a little buckling.  He weighed in at 5 lbs, 4 ounces.  He has good strong lungs but weak little legs.  He also is really bad at finding the teats he’s supposed to nurse.  We milked Roja (his dam) and got some colostrum into him to help him gain some strength, then kept trying to help him find the udder.  For some reason he thinks it’s under the front armpits.

Roja so far is being a good momma.  It’s her first kid, but she is very patient as he tries to nurse, is extremely careful not to step on him, and comes running from across the paddock anytime he bleats.

I’m worried about the little guy since he is so premature.  Hopefully he’ll make it through the first night and will gain strength from then on.

Next year we will be ready at least three weeks prior to the start of kidding season.

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Postscript

The little premie goat kid died after two days.  He was never able to stand for long enough to nurse effectively.  We tried to help him along as much as we could, but we were unable to “save” him.  He was just born too early and too weak.  Very sad.  Farmers deal with a lot of death.
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Kiko herdsire for sale or trade

Apollo in the morning sun

This is Apollo.  He is a 7-year old purebred Kiko buck.  He is for sale, and you should buy him.  🙂

He’s registered as an American Premier fullblood Kiko with the International Kiko Goat Association, and I have the papers to transfer the ownership to you.  Registered animals are just as easy to keep as non-registered ones, and registration is just easy added value.

More importantly for your breeding program, Apollo was a fast-growing buckling.  From a birthweight of 6 lbs he rocketed to 15 lbs in a month and 52 lbs at 90 days.  He has needed no worming and minimal foot care throughout his life and his time with us.  He is quite friendly and easy to catch.  Not an aggressive bone in his body.  He loves to be scratched behind the ears and on the forehead.

Kikos are the “go anywhere, do anything” goat.  They are great mothers with plenty of milk for multiple kids.  They grow quickly and are much more resistant to worms than the Boer breed.  We know – we have both Kikos and Boers under identical conditions.  They are a great meat goat for the humid midwest and southeast.

You can get him this spring and have your herd ready to drop kids in the early fall and have your kids ready for market next Easter.

Apollo is for sale for $350 – or make us an offer.

We would also trade him for another Kiko buck of similar quality or 2 young Kiko does.

If you’re interested you can comment below, email us (geoff@goodliferanch.com), or call us at 606.787.4217.  We can work out delivery if needed.

Apollo profile

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Barn Raisin’

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We just finished a new barn on our property.  We needed a sheltered area for the goats and cattle for the winter as well as a predator-proof nighttime roost for our poultry to deter the extremely bold and clever minks.

We had one large barn from the 1940’s already but it leans pretty badly, is elevated off the ground (not predator proof), and doesn’t offer any sheltered areas for livestock that are secure.  We have 2 useful stalls that we use for quarantine purposes, but that old barn is really not useful for anything other than storage.

So with the help of Abe, one of our Amish neighbors, we designed a combination run-in shed and poultry roosting house to serve our purposes.  The completed structure is 20′ wide, 48′ long, and 8′ tall at the lowest point of the roof rising to 12′ tall at the apex.  The poultry roosting area is 16′ x 20′ (320 square feet) and the run-in shelter is 32′ by 20′ (640 square feet).

The poultry roosting section is completely enclosed with poplar boxing harvested from our woods at the top of the hill.  The boxing goes all the way up to the roof and spacers are attached to prevent any critter from climbing over the walls.  We also sunk hardwood boards a foot into the ground below the boxing to prevent digging critters.  As an extra measure of protection chicken wire will be stapled to the baseboards, buried beneath a thick layer of gravel planted with thorny cactus and multiflora rosebushes to form a (hopefully) impenetrable barrier to predators.  If any minks, raccoons, or stray cats can get through this, then we’ll just have to give up on raising chickens.  Inside the roosting house will be a bamboo roost, nesting boxes, and a feed bin with a rodent-deterring latching system all over an auto-composting deep bedding system.

The run-in shed serves as shade and shelter for the ruminants during stormy winter weather.  On the open front we will attach 2 16′ gates to span the open side.  One gate will open outwards and one gate will open into the shelter, allowing us to utilized the gate to help us corral goats for hoof trimmings.  We purposefully placed the shelter connected to the garden area to collect the fertility from the hay and manure for our crops.  Basically, the cows poop, we add some grain and cover it with straw or hay, the cows poop more, we add more grain and cover it with straw or hay, and the cows trample out all of the oxygen.  This binds all of the nutrients together and stores them until we’re ready.  No smell and no shoveling manure!

Once the cows and goats are back out on pasture in early April, we’ll buy a couple feeder pigs and turn them into the shelter and garden area.  The pigs will root through all that hay, straw, and manure in search of the grain we buried in there for them.  In the process, the pigs will inject oxygen into all that organic matter and the whole lot of it will begin to compost.  After a few weeks we will have a garden that has been fertilized and tilled as well as a couple of pigs to eat!

This shelter went up very quickly.  It took 3 men (2 Amish and 1 Geoff), 1 teenager, and 1 kid 5 days to complete it.  Very economical as well.  Abe gets good prices.  I priced out the materials at Lowe’s and the wood alone was only $700 less than we paid for the whole structure and the labor.  Plus, it’s built far more sturdily than I could have hope to build it alone.

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Apollo

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Meet our new herdsire, Apollo!  At least that’s his given name.  I don’t know if it will stick or not, but I am certain that at a minimum Lindsey will anoint him with a rank at a point in the near future.  I’m predicting Admiral even though I’m pretty sure he doesn’t own a boat.

Apollo is a registered Kiko goat. The majority of our does are Kikos and the breed is reknowned abroad for their ease of maintenance.  They are called the “go anywhere, do anything goat.”  Well-bred Kikos have good sound hooves, good udders, plenty of milk, and grow quickly on pasture or browse with very little intervention from the goat herder.  Read: they don’t need grain or consistent deworming.

I got to see lots of Apollo’s progeny at his former farm, and they look great!  I also noticed that the does we have right now are a lot larger-framed than the does in the other farm’s herd, so I’m hopeful that Apollo will produce even nicer kids with our does.

This will be our first year breeding the goats.  4 of ours were too young to be bred last winter and the other 2 had had kids left on them for 6-7 months without being weaned and so were really thin when we got them.  I decided the best course of action was to give them a season off to recover their body condition.

Now all of the goats are in prime breeding condition, so I’m hoping that we’ll get multiple sets of twins so that we’ll have a good selection from which to choose superior does to add to our herd.  The animals we don’t retain as future breeders will be sold as pets, brush-eaters, or grown out for meat.  We should have 4-8 pure Kiko kids and 2-4 BoKi (Boer/Kiko crosses) from which to choose.

Apollo is very friendly and curious about me whenever I enter the paddock, even though it’s breeding season and he’s got does to watch over.  He’s very easy to handle as well.  He always wants to be petted first thing, which is cute but also a little gross because of his “goat cologne.”

For people who haven’t been around goats, during the breeding season goat bucks will spray their urine on their beards and front legs.  This advertises his virility and machismo to any does in the area and for some reason does find this “goat cologne” irresistable.  I find that the smell is hard to get off of your hands.

If all happens as it should from here, then we should start getting our first round of goat kids on or about April 11, 2012!

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Interns!

Cameron & Alexa pose by Goatel 2.0

Our first interns arrived this week!  Here are their introductions:

Cameron Day is 17 and a junior at the International School of the Americas in San Antonio, Texas. The owners of Good Life Ranch, Geoff and Lindsey McPherson, are both former teachers of his and he was interested in helping them out as soon as he heard about this new endeavor. He is very interested in poverty elimination because he feels that in too many societies large portions of the population are held captive by economic inequalities. He feels that if these inequalities can be eliminated or at least lessened then society will become more fair and free. The first step in eliminating a problem is raising awareness and hopefully the simulations at Good Life Ranch will raise awareness of the different types of poverty that exist elsewhere in the world. He first became interested in this sort of work after he attended a similar poverty simulation at Heifer Project International, so he hopes to help provide other students with the kind of experience he had at Heifer. In his free time he likes to play guitar in a band. Cameron is most excited about building the Cambodian and Haitian structures.

Alexa Zanikos is also 17 and a junior at the International School of the Americas in San Antonio, Texas. Geoff and Lindsey McPherson are her former teachers, and she jumped at the chance to set out on an adventure in sustainable farming with them. Alexa’s interest in sustainable farming was sparked by her dad, who since retirement has set out on a similar journey into sustainable, hardcore gardening in the backyard. She is excited to apply the skills her father has taught her here at Good Life Ranch and bring the skills she learns here back home. Her family has a passion for food and the environment, which manifests itself in a quest to “get off the food grid” by eating as much as we can from her dad’s garden and making as much of our own food as possible (homemade bagels anyone?).  Besides food, farming and school, Alexa is a dancer in the San Antonio-based youth dance company Insight Dance Ensemble.

Today Alexa, Cameron, Lindsey, and Geoff spent the afternoon building Goatel 2.0 – a second goat shelter to replace Goatel 1.3 that the goats destroyed last week.  Goatel 2.0 features heavier construction (2×8’s versus 1×6’s), wheels placed to allow more ground clearance, a slanted roof for better rain runoff, and tarp covering the roof and most of 3 sides of the structure.  After building it we wheeled it down the road and into the goat paddock.  Everyone approved of Goatel 2.0.  Now let’s hope it’s sturdy enough to stand up to several years of goat abuse.

Goatel 2.0

Goatel 2.0

Other projects we’ve started with Alexa and Cameron: weeding the Three Sisters Patch (corn, squash, and beans); planting more hot-weather veggies, weeding and mulching the vegetable gardens, hauling rocks to build the herb spiral, staking out the first Lifestyle Lane structure, and breeding rabbits.  Of course, this is in addition to the normal daily routine of moving goats, poultry, and rabbits as well as feeding and watering everyone.

Welcome Alexa and Camerson!  Glad to have you!

Early Spring Update

The year's first asparagus. 200 feet from plot to pot.

Ahh, early spring on the farm!  The cherry trees are full of blossoms, the grass is bright green and growing quickly, the garden is planted, and the chickens are brooding eggs for us.  It’s a great time to be working outside.

The rabbits have been breeding for a while.  Unfortunately, our rabbits are not very good mothers.  Two of them abandoned their litters right after birth and would not take care of them.  The other two rabbits that had litters were good mothers.  One had a small litter of 3 bunnies that have done well.  They are 3 weeks old now and busily hopping around their pen exploring.  The second mother was doing fantastic.  She had a litter of 8 bunnies and they all survived and were growing rapidly throughout the first week of their lives.  Then we had a big storm.  We got a couple inches of rain the night before last and all through yesterday.  We did not know that the roof of that rabbit’s cage would not hold up against the storm.  It started dripping water right through the back half of the roof where the rabbit had made her nest.  All the poor bunnies got soaked and too cold.  None of them made it.  Those discoveries are always hard, and the blow is especially severe when the bunnies came from our two best rabbits and were doing so well.  We even had them sold!  Setbacks, setbacks…

Thomas and Not Thomas enjoying their first romp on the new spring grass.

On a brighter note, all the Black Australorp chicks we hatched out are doing great!  The first two (the only two that hatched successfully from our frozen January egg clutch) got to go out onto pasture today in their very own chicken tractor.  They are enjoying exploring the outside world, catching their first bugs, and tasting their first grass.  They’ve got all their feathers now, so they should be fine unless we get a really cold snap come in.  If that happens they can go back into the brooder for the night.  The second clutch is so vibrant!  We had 30 successfully hatch, and all 30 of them are doing wonderfully!  The chicks we got from the hatchery last year had a few problems with weak chicks and chicks who developed pasty deposits around their anuses.  These home-hatched chicks have had NONE of those problems whatsoever.  It’s really remarkable.  Hopefully the last batch of chicks we just got in will be the last chickens we have to order and we’ll be able to hatch them all out on-farm from now on.

Speaking of which, we just picked up our (hopefully) last ever chicken and turkey order from the post office this morning.  52 Naked Neck chickens (we’re calling them Kentucky Redneck Chickens) and 48 Narragansett and Bourbon Red turkey poults have joined the Black Australorp chicks and Magpie ducklings in the broodhouse.  We had 2 of the turkey poults DOA, but so far everyone else seems healthy so hopefully they’ll prosper in their new locale.  The video below shows the new chicks, the old chicks, and some footage of the greenhouse and garden.

Lindsey’s family came in last week and they helped us transplant the seedlings we started in the greenhouse to the garden so now our garden is full of our cool-weather crops: broccoli, sweet peas, Amish snap peas, radishes, 3 kinds of carrots, turnips, 5 kinds of lettuce, spinach, chard, onions, mustard greens, and kale.  The little seedlings have adjusted well to the outdoors with a minimum of hardening off.  We’ve been picking salad greens for a while and are now waiting on our first peas and radishes to be ready.  Yesterday we got to eat the season’s first asparagus.  So good!  I don’t really like asparagus from the grocery store too much, but the fresh stuff is to die for!  The strawberry patch that we’ve worked so hard to revamp by removing the weeds and old plants, mulching, and fertilizing with rabbit manure has really taken off.  Lots of new leaves and plants loaded with blooms.  We are looking forward to a good crop of strawberries in another few weeks if we can fight off the birds and pick our fair share of them.

In other news, the Eggmobile we’ve been building for the chickens should be finished this weekend so check for a how-to post on that in the near future.

We also revamped the Good Life Ranch website to make it more informative and easier to navigate.  Check it out and let us know what you think!

Enjoy the update!  I’ve got to get back to work outside!

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